I was just incredulous. Really. I was booking flights last night for Family Weekend up at Miami of Ohio, and I went to select our seats. It’s a pretty common thing on airline websites these days. They give you a little graphic, and you can select where you want to sit on the airplane. Click on the seat and reserve it. Pretty easy, right?
Well, yes, but AirTran wants $6/seat per leg for the privilege of selecting your seats.
Now I suppose I could have let AT pick our seats for us. But would they have been together … or split up in middle seats between overweight people (and I’m no small person myself) and very uncomfortable for the entire flight.
So it has come to this. Airlines are literally nickel-and-diming their customers to death. I would not have even blinked if the $48 had been just added to the base price of the ticket. Instead, I’m writing a blog post about how outraged I am about having to basically pay for a “seat license” to choose my seat.
I can see a baggage charge. It takes additional fuel to carry additional suitcases on the plane. I’m not happy about that, but I can understand it. I can see charging for peanuts or pretzels or a coke or what ever. Those things cost money. Again, not happy about it, but at least it can be justified. But my butt is going to be in that seat regardless. Charging me $6 to choose which one it is is a bit beyond the pale, IMHO.
But, I guess that’s what it’s come to. The sad thing is that the more difficult and expensive it becomes to travel by air, the more people are going to think twice about booking a ticket. Between the hassle of security, which I understand, and the nickel-and-dime fees and overcrowded, oversold airplanes not arriving on time … I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t need to go. I used to look forward to air travel. Now, not so much. Maybe that’s because I’ve been on more airplanes this year than I have in a long, long time. I’m looking forward to a non-flying fall.
Maybe that’s what the airlines want. Make things so expensive and so burdensome that people stop flying. Then, they can do away with some of the less-profitable routes because “nobody’s flying them”. Travel by air will again become the purview of the wealthy or those traveling on somebody else’s dime. But as video conferencing becomes more widely available for businesses, people will stop flying so much for business. I’m sure that’s happening already. As companies economize, the first thing to go is unnecessary business travel. What kind of ripple effect will that have on convention organizers, for instance.
I don’t think airlines should be nationalized, and I don’t think airlines shouldn’t make a profit. But I also know that I used to fly every chance I got. Now, it’s my travel choice of last resort.